A federal judge Wednesday forbid Delta Air Lines
pilots from coordinating efforts to refuse overtime work, a tactic
the airline contends the pilots have used to apply pressure during
U.S. District Judge Willis Hunt Jr., issued a preliminary
injunction and gave pilot union leaders until Feb. 26 to explain
how they are notifying pilots about the injunction prohibiting the
Hunt, who required the Air Line Pilots Association to post
notice of his order, also barred pilots from harassing colleagues
who accept overtime and requires.
Wednesday's injunction follows the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals' reversal of Hunt's December finding that Delta was not
legally entitled to an injunction.
Delta, the nation's third-largest carrier, has been forced to
cancel thousands of flights since December when some of its 9,800
pilots stopped requesting overtime. Delta and the pilots have been
negotiating a new contract since September 1999.
The airline uses overtime to staff about 5 percent of its
schedule, which it has trimmed about 4 percent this month and 3.5
percent in March to manage the pilot unavailability.
Under the pilots' contract, overtime flying is voluntary,
meaning that while the order prevents a concerted effort to
decrease such flying, pilots individually can choose to refuse it.
Delta spokesman Russ Williams said the carrier isn't sure what
to expect from Hunt's ruling.
"At this point, I think we're really going to have to watch and
see how things unfold," Williams said.
The union posted Hunt's ruling on its Web sites and on a
telephone message on a Delta pilot hotline.
ALPA plans to tell pilots that disobeying the order could lead
to a contempt citation, which often carries financial penalties,
union spokesman Andy Deane said.
"We'll stress that the most important thing for us to do is
exactly what this federal judge tells us to do," he said.